“Ah Sin”, by Sherman A. Nagel. Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. A factual novel of the Hakka Chinese.
Ah Sin, the hero of this historical romance, is a young Chinese patriot. The romance of his life is pictured amid a setting of war and revolution. At the opening of the story we find Ah Sin as the leader of a group of robbers and plunderers fighting against the Manchu dynasty. He and his band ultimately join forces with the late Doctor Sun Yat Sen the famous, so-called, Christian general of the revolution. During an encounter with the enemy Ah Sin is wounded and removed to a hospital. While convalescing here, he finds the beautiful Fa Len to whom Ah Sin had been betrothed although, according to the Chinese custom, he had never seen her. Since the earlier betrothal, a bitter feud had broken out between the two families and Fa Len’s parents had vowed that she would never be married to Ah Sin. Their acquaintance during Ah Sin’s recovery grows into friendship and love which is expressed by both. There is a great barrier separating them: however, for La Fen had become a Christian while Ah Sin is still an unbelieving heathen. Although they are deeply in love, Fa Len asserts that this unhappy circumstance must separate them forever unless God’s grace turns the unbelieving heart of Aih Sin to embrace the Christ of God. This finally takes place through the untiring efforts of Fa Len to instruct Ah Sin in the truth of God’s Word. The story closes with their marriage and resolution to devote their lives to christianizing heathen China.
Once again we are disappointed because of the lack of a true Biblical conception of conversion. The spiritual experiences of the characters seems rather superficial. Although the author has pictured real characters whom he has met, and even though we do not care to doubt the sincerity of their conversion, it is nevertheless clear that a very shallow conception of true Christianity exists, either in the mind of the author or of the characters of this book. For example, the presentation of the rebirth of China in which, she turns from her old, heathen traditions to the Light which radiates from Christ is not only superficial but also untrue. Nowhere does Scripture teach such a national conversion to Christianity in the new dispensation. Scripture certainly pictures to us the awakening of the nations on the four corners of the earth. This is not an awakening or embracing of Christianity, but only an enlightenment in the natural sphere which will result in the conflict between Gog and Magog and the nominally Christian nations i.e. the nations in which Christianity has flourished in the past. China will never be Christianized as presented in this book. We repeat that we do not doubt the regeneration and conversion of a small remnant of the Chinese, but never a renewed, Christian, Chinese nation.
However, there are other features of this book ‘which are worthy of admiration. One who reads “All Sin” will greatly enlarge his knowledge of the Ghinese as a people. This is well worth while for they constitute an extensive nation of over 400 million souls. The customs and traditions, as well as the political struggles of the past 25 years, of this large nation are vividly and interestingly sketched. Upon earful reading one can even detect some of the motives for the present struggle between China and her aggressive neighbour, Japan. It is very evident that the author is thoroughly acquainted with China and the life of the Chinese people. He ‘knows their aspirations and desires for he has spent more than 20 years in China making a careful study of this
interesting race, of its history and also of its present struggle.
As a romance, the book is also very interesting. The author very realistically pictures the relations between young men and women in China ‘which are strikingly interesting due to the great difference in custom and tradition between China and our own country. A very commendable feature of the book is its (presentation of the sacredness of marriage and courtship. Our young people should profit from this narrative by making this important part of their lives the subject of prayerful consideration. Young people, often, so easily neglect their calling of God in respect to one another, to confess “In Whom they believe.” We must realize that only in the way of prayer for God’s blessing will our courtships and marriages be a cause for true joy and happiness. These truths are certainly taught in this book. We believe, therefore, that the historical romance of Ah Sin can be profitably read by our young people.